Drilon to COA: ‘Keep an eagle eye’ on NTF-ELCAC’s budget

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MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to “keep an eagle eye” on the proposed budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

This, after COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo said they are considering a special audit of the budget of the task force dealing with the communist insurgency.

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“I support a special audit of the funds allotted to the NTF-ELCAC. Given the various kinds of corruption that we’ve unearthed in the Senate, a COA special audit of all the funds that went to the government’s anti-insurgency program administered by the NTF-ELCAC is a welcome development,” Drilon said in a statement.

“The COA should keep an eagle eye on these funds especially with the birth of a new program called Barangay Development Program,” he went on.

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Drilon had earlier questioned these funds saying it could be used for political purposes or the 2022 elections.

NTF-ELCAC has a P19 billion proposed budget for 2021, P16 billion of which was earmarked for its Barangay Development Program.

The Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives also flagged this and even called for its removal in the budget since it may be used as “pork barrel.”

But Interior Secretary Eduardo Año defended NTF-ELCAC’s P16-billion budget for the anti-insurgency program, saying some 822 barangays affected by insurgencies in the country will benefit from the funds.

Año said among the projects included in the budget are the construction of farm-to-market roads, barangay health centers, school buildings, and more.

“The money going from one hand to another, we can expect what happens next. This is exactly the kind of setup that allows corruption to thrive. We must avoid this in the budget if we really want to enhance transparency and accountability on the use of funds. Let the agencies handle the projects and let them be accountable for the funds,” Drilon said.

KGA
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